CSU, UC systems make move toward mandating COVID-19 vaccinations


Jun Ueda

A Safeway Pharmacy employee fills out a COVID-19 vaccine passport in the Mashouf Wellness Center on Feb. 3. According to the CSU, all students and faculty who will be on campus for in-person learning during the fall semester must be vaccinated. (Jun Ueda / Golden Gate Xpress)

The California State University and University of California systems announced on Thursday that they would be requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty, staff and students effective Fall 2021, or whenever the Food and Drug Administration fully approves the vaccine — whichever comes later.

While the CSU has encouraged all faculty, staff and students to get vaccinated, there will be an option to apply for a vaccine exemption due to religious or medical concerns. SF State President Lynn Mahoney included in her email to the campus community that the “overwhelming majority” of faculty, staff, students and administrators that have been surveyed intend to get vaccinated.  

In a press conference in February, CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro did not explicitly state whether or not the CSU would be mandating vaccinations; however, he did imply hesitancy regarding mandating vaccinations prior to full FDA approval, due to legal concerns. 

President of the California State Student Association, Zahraa Khuraibet, said that she wasn’t surprised to hear this announcement after having been in conversations with the chancellor on the topic. 

“As of lately, just hearing from the different student leaders, there have been conversations about being excited that this is happening…  but also there are concerns that need to be addressed,” Khuraibet said. 

According to Khuraibet, potential concerns she sees now are about vaccination access for students, the exemption process and ensuring that there will be no barriers for students to return to learning in person. 

Some CSUs, including SF State, have opened vaccination sites on their campuses. However, according to Noriko Lim-Tepper, Mahoney’s interim chief of staff, Safeway will now only be offering second doses of the vaccine at the Mashouf Wellness Center vaccination site, and its last day of operation will be May 6. 

SF State is actively looking to develop a new plan for first-dose appointments on campus and working alongside the San Francisco Department of Public Health to provide vaccine access to the SF State community and residents of the surrounding areas.

To encourage students to get vaccinated, the university is planning a public service campaign urging the campus community to make appointments to do so. In a survey distributed to the campus community, nearly 80% of roughly 2,000 students surveyed said they plan to get vaccinated.

According to Bobby King, director of communications for the Office of the President, the three levels of the campaign are to “inspire, vaccinate and educate.” The campaign is expected to begin in May; university-provided information will be promoted to the campus community through forms such as social media posts and informational videos.

King is also charting vaccination sites across the state to help students who are not based in San Francisco get their first shots.

“It was really disruptive and hard when we left, and suddenly it became comfortable [to stay at home],” King said. “Now, we need some reassurance that it’s going to be safe and what we need to do to stay safe when we come back.”

In a statement from the California Faculty Association, President Charles Toombs said that mandating vaccinations is important for ensuring a safe campus as outlined in their plan titled, Our Way Forward. He also acknowledged that not all people will be able to be vaccinated due to medical or religious reasons, and the CFA will advocate for faculty based on member input.